Friday, September 10, 2010

A Morning Walk In Bangkok

On an early morning stroll near the Asia Hotel

The heat of day thoughout most of Thailand can be unpleasant - there's just no way around it. Staying hydrated helps, as does limiting time out in the mid-day sun. Most of the time there I'm busy enough that sheer stubborness keeps me going, but I've learned to take advantage of the more pleasant times of day for my walks out among the "real life" of the neighborhoods there.

My favorite time for this is first thing in the morning, with the evening running that a close second. Not being much of one for the wild nightlife there I tend to find it easy to wake up early, before the club folks have regained consciousness and most tourists are still getting their bearings before assaulting the breakfast buffets. If possible, I like to be out of the hotel and walking by 07:00 at the latest. I love seeing the area I'm in awaken, and the lighting for photos has that golden hue you only get near dawn and dusk.

A cartload of bundled roses for sale is pushed along by it's proprietor

There hasn't been a post on the Asia Hotel yet, but I've stayed there several times on earlier visits. It's not that it's all that lovely a hotel; truth is it's getting a little tired and usualy has so many busloads of tourists that the lobby often more closely resembles the cavernous Hua Lamphong train depot, but it has some key points we'll address another day. I'm mentioning it because today's photos were taken on a morning walk within a few blocks of its front door, so if you happen to stay there you could take the same pleasant walk.

Walking through the front doors that morning (held open by the same older uniformed man who has been there for years) I turned left and walked the few short yards to the side street and again took a left. Although I didn't know the area - and seldom do - I had a card from the hotel to give a taxi driver if I got lost, so I took out my camera and "slowed my roll" as the kids today would say, stopping often to look around and observe the sights, sounds and smells as the neighborhood came to life: delivery people with carts of produce, dollys of boxed goods and baskets of foodstuffs slung over their shoulders they jockeyed for sidewalk and street space with delivery trucks, tuk tuks and taxis while lines of motorscooters wove snake-like between them all.

Food carts, pedestrians and cars share space along a side street

Parents and older siblings walked hand-in-hand with kids in their school uniforms: white shirt, blue or dark red skirt or shorts. The food carts along the sidewalks all had a few people standing in front of them, waiting for their breakfast or lunch bag. The smell of rice porridge and BBQ chicken and pork drifted along on the relatively cool air being stirred by the movement of traffic (and humanity).

There's a constant rumble and buzzing of autos and motor scooters, punctuated by the shouts of children already at play and the tell-tale electronic "ding dong" of the 7-11 store across the street from where I'm standing to take this all in.

A cartload of rambutan: a delicious, easy-to-peel snack

I joined a couple of others waiting to buy a plastic pint bottle of fresh-squeezed orange juice, startling one woman who didn't expect to see a Big Pink Guy when she turned to glance over her shoulder. The juice was the Nectar of the Gods, and I stood off to the side of the cart to savor it while the cart vendor continued to do a brisk business. Thai who were waiting caught my eye and we shared a smile.

I lost track of time and was probably out wandering for a couple of hours, but it was a treat I never tire of. Just taking the time to go a few blocks can take you into an entirely different world.

You don't have to walk far to immerse yourself in the "real" Thailand, and it's something I heartily reccomend.

An alleyway leading to homes along the way - one of many


Anonymous said...

I like how the Thai people's living circumstances, no matter how grand or humble, always include flowers and potted plants. Where I live, any plant in a nice pot gets stolen. I also enjoy the differences between the early morning and late night urban activities. The morning routines and the local characters who open and make-ready Greenwich Village, The Castro, and The French Quarter have entertained me for years. The streets, stores and venues remain the same, but the people and their purpose change completely.

khunbaobao said...

Fortunately I finally live in an area where I don't worry much about things going missing - although the neighbor had an entire hand-made arched wooden bridge taken from his front yard, and that must have taken at least two people and a truck!